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Campers urged to exercise care with campfires

A spate of unattended campfires in national parks and state forests has prompted authorities to urge campers to take greater care over the summer period.

ELAINE COONEY January 3, 2013 4:23am

Campers and day-trippers this holiday period are being warned that unattended campfires can quickly turn into bushfires.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said every holiday period the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria officers saw a spate of campfires in national parks and state forests left unattended or not put out properly.

‘‘About 10 per cent of fires in Victoria’s parks and forests are started by campfire escapes, and that’s 10 per cent of bushfires that could have been prevented,’’ he said.

‘‘Many parts of the state are drier this year than in the past couple of years and with a bit of wind, sparks can carry and start a bushfire quickly.’’

The key things people need to do when having a campfire are:

Check restrictions for the area – campfires are not allowed in some areas of public land and are prohibited on a Total Fire Ban day.

Always use a purpose built fireplace where provided.

If there are no restrictions on campfires and in the absence of a fireplace, campfires should be lit in a 30 centimetre trench, with an area of three metre radius cleared of vegetation and other flammable materials.

Take care on dry, windy days – if the wind is strong enough to carry sparks, don’t light a campfire.

Never leave a campfire unattended.

Keep your campfire just big enough for cooking and keeping warm.

If your campfire is cool to touch it is safe to leave.

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